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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Gay blood regulations are bloody bigoted

America is in serious need of blood right now. According to the American Red Cross, about 36,000 units of blood are available daily, but 80,000 units are needed to keep up with the high demand for blood in surgery and emergency situations.

Unfortunately, over 2 percent of the nation’s potential donors are barred from donating on the basis of their sexual activity. The lifetime ban on men who have sex with other men will be lifted later this year, but it will be replaced with an equally deleterious and offensive proposition: Don’t have sex for a year, and then maybe the Red Cross or United Blood Services will take your free blood.

Alan Cumming, an openly bisexual, award-winning actor and newly self-appointed director of the Department of Sexual Abstinence — formerly headed by Coach Carr from “Mean Girls” — wants you to take the Celibacy Challenge. Don’t have sex for a year, dudes, he says in a new video, and then you can donate blood. Cumming suggests things other than his name: Take up phallic pottery, polish your door knobs and trophies, and join a civil war reenactment. Really, anything to stop having sex.

The hilarious video is, of course, satirical. One year of abstinence for many adults is ridiculous. That’s like asking someone to not have an opinion for one year prior to voting. To donate blood, you have to be a consenting adult, and consenting adults usually have an adequate grasp on their risk; generally, no one wants to donate infected blood.

“Absurd! Those damn gays are far more at risk for contracting potentially dangerous diseases and infections than my wholesome straight son or daughter,” said everyone’s homophobic, right-wing relative who is probably also a huge racist. “They shouldn’t get married either! This ban totally makes sense.”

The fact of the matter is that the options aren’t that great for the blood services right now anyway. Only a little less than 10 million people in a population approaching 400 million donate blood regularly. Over 2 million men are barred from donating blood because they had sex with another man once. (Just once; that’s all it takes!)

Telling 2 million people they can’t do something doesn’t seem like a lot out of 400 million, but it’s huge in a population of 10 million blood donors. And those 10 million aren’t even producing an adequate blood supply.

Ian Thompson is a legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. In a Huffington Post article citing tissue donation as another barrier for gay men in receiving medical equality, Thompson spoke to the progress of this move, however small.

“It makes no sense to exclude from the donor pool healthy, gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men who are in committed, monogamous relationships where neither partner is living with HIV,” Thompson said, “but I think the progress we’re seeing, however flawed it is on the blood donation end, is probably a good indication we may see progress on these other issues as well.”

By excluding such a large portion of the American population, homophobia persists at an institutional level, and it is killing people. People are dying because there is a lack of blood and organs in this nation. As a supposed world power, we should be ashamed of that.

The Food and Drug Administration needs to drop its bias and acknowledge that 2015 is a time in which straight people are just as likely to be diseased as gay people — and that their screening procedures need to be based on risk and not sexual orientation or gender identity.

After all, according to Sarah Kate Ellis, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation president and CEO, “Stereotypes have no place in saving lives.”

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Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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